Newcastle Waters Feathertop Trial update

Casey Collier, Tennant Creek and Dionne Walsh, Darwin

Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) and Barkly Landcare and Conservation Association (BLCA) staff headed to Newcastle Waters Station in April to collect the pasture and soil data from the trial currently being undertaken there. The collaborative project between DPIR, BLCA, Consolidated Pastoral Company and Territory National Resource Management is looking at whether prescribed burning can be used to control Aristida latifolia (feathertop wiregrass) in black soil pastures.

The project commenced in mid-2017 and plots were burnt in July and September. It was envisaged that some of the plots would also be burnt in November, but due to early rain, this didn’t happen.

Pasture results

Although a full statistical analysis is yet to be completed, the initial results suggest that there was a low kill rate of feathertop. We think this might be because we were a bit over-cautious with the fires and they may not have been hot enough to detrimentally affect the plants.

Some of the preliminary results show:

  • the average biomass yield in April was lowest on the plots burnt in July, followed by those burnt in September. Plots that weren’t burnt had the highest biomass yields
  • ground cover in the plots burnt in July and September was about half that of the plots that weren’t burnt

This can be seen in the aerial photo, with the darker plots (N & C) representing the unburnt plots (Figure1).

Figure 1: An aerial photo of the trial plot at Newcastle Waters Station

Figure 1: An aerial photo of the trial plot at Newcastle Waters Station

Graph 1: The average overall yield of the plots. Although the November plots are the same as the control plots, it is envisaged that the November plots will be burnt in July/August 2018 to further investigate ideal burning time.Graph 2: The percentage average cover in each of the trial plots
Graph 1: The average overall yield of the plots. Although the November plots are the same as the control plots, it is envisaged that the November plots will be burnt in July/August 2018 to further investigate ideal burning time.

Graph 2: The percentage average cover in each of the trial plots

Last updated: 14 June 2018